Class chips in to help classmate’s family

Brandon Watterson, Sheldon Watterson and their mother Candie McDonald take the podium at Sundays graduation ceremony after the senior class presented Brandon who has been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma with the leftover money from their class account. (Photo by Travis Gulbrandson)

When Vermillion High Schools class of 2011 was finished with all its activities for the year, more than $500 was left over in the class fund.

There was only one thing they wanted to do with the money donate it to the family of Brandon Watterson, whose older brother, Sheldon, was among Sundays graduates.

Brandon, 15, recently was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.

Its been really hard for my entire family, Sheldon said from the podium toward the end of Sundays graduation ceremony. Luckily enough, the cure rate is about 96 percent. So far, were doing good.

The boys mother, Candie McDonald, and Brandon also came onstage to thank the class for the gift.

I dont know how to say thank you enough for the support that you guys have given us, said McDonald, who cried throughout her short speech.

In particular she thanked the teachers and students who supported both her sons through the continuing ordeal.

Right now were on a good path. Brandon finished radiation which most of you know the end of April, she said. In the middle of June hes supposed to have scans, so were just praying for remission so he can hopefully start the school year clean and free of cancer.

The response from everyone at the school was overwhelming, Sheldon said.

It was overnight that the entire school found out that Brandon was diagnosed, he said. It wasnt a week later, a month later, it was the next day. I came back and everyone was asking me, Are you OK, hows it going, is Brandon OK?

The total amount donated is just about $530, he added.

You have no idea how far thatll go, he said. We go to and from Sioux Falls every day for months on end, and spend how much on gas. Everybody knows how high gas prices are right now

I just want to thank the entire senior class and everybody in the entire Vermillion High School, he said.

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